Two-year-old cured of HIV infection

The Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta reported this week that a two-year-old child born with HIV infection and treated with anti-retroviral drugs no longer has detectable levels of the virus despite not taking medication for 10 months.

The case marks the first well-documented instance of an HIV-infected child who appears to have been functionally cured of HIV infection.

"Despite the fact that research has given us the tools to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, many infants are unfortunately still born infected. With this case, it appears we may have not only a positive outcome for the particular child, but also a promising lead for additional research toward curing other children," NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci said.

Additional research is still required to determine if the same course can be replicated in clinical trials involving other HIV-exposed children.

Deborah Persaud, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, and Katherine Luzuriaga, a professor of pediatrics and molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, presented the case study at the meeting. Persaud and Luzuriaga led the analysis of the case.

"This case suggests that providing antiretroviral therapy within the very first few days of life to infants infected with HIV through their mothers via pregnancy or delivery may prevent HIV from establishing a reservoir, or hiding place, in their bodies and, therefore, achieve a cure for those children," Persaud said.